Release date: December 9th, capsule 2013
Running time: 112 minutes
Director: James Wan
Writer: Chad Hayes, case Carey Hayes
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor
There’s a world hidden from most of us. Maybe you’ve felt it at some point but couldn’t quite explain it in a way that would make sense with the rest of the mainstream view of the world. It was just one of those things. It was nothing at all. But in the course of my life I’ve known those who’ve had the ability to tap into it and I’ve enough of a sensitive nature “feel” certain things other might not. But what about those who have to live like that constantly, every day, every night, for their entire lives?
Take Ed and Lorraine Warren for example. Their story is as incredible as it is frightening. Ed was a WWII US Navy veteran and former police officer and later became a Demonologist, author, and lecturer. His wife, Lorraine, was a clairvoyant and together they founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, opened The Warrens’ Occult Museum, investigated thousands of reports of paranormal activity and authored various books on the subject. They also investigated the infamous Amityville haunting and trained other paranormal investigating demonologists including Dave Considine, Lou Gentile, and their nephew John Zaffis. It would be accurate to say then that the Warrens had one foot in this world and the other… in another.
The Conjuring tells the story of one family the Warrens tried to help. In 1971, Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger Perron (Ron Livingston) moved into a rundown farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island with their five daughters and dog Sadie, but from the first day she refused to enter the house. They don’t think much of it at first and continue to explore the house and discover a cellar with its entrance boarded up. The next morning Carolyn wakes up with bruises over her body but thinks nothing of it and they try to find where Sadie might’ve gotten to during the night. The girls discover the dog’s body outside.
Over the next few days things only get worse in the house. All of the picture frames along the staircase are smashed one night, Carolyn is lured into the cellar and locked in there and the girls are terrorized by a violent force upstairs in their bedrooms. The distraught parents seek out Ed and Lorraine and urge them to visit their house, hoping they might be able to help.
What’s interesting in The Conjuring is that once Ed and Lorraine have confirmed there’s a presence in the house and that they need an exorcism performed, the Catholic Church try to stall matters instead of helping them. As Ed and Lorraine gather more evidence they uncover some unpleasant things about the house and the history of the land it’s built on. The real danger is that the spirit that’s haunting the Perrons preys on mothers and possesses them to harm their children – Ed and Lorraine try everything in their power to prevent Carolyn from hurting those she loves the most, but at what cost to themselves?
The Conjuring is a film that’s more concerned with telling a story rather than setting up shocks and twist endings we’ve come to expect from such supernatural horrors. The characters are introduced in a very likeable way and we start to invest emotionally in their well-being as the narrative unfolds. While it’s hard to keep track of the five daughters as they’re so close to each other in age and appearance, it’s really the adults and what’s happening to Ed and Lorraine we remain focused on. The couple work together as a team and there’s a backstory tucked away in there as well about one of Lorraine’s previous investigations.
Knowing that the Warrens really existed and that this was a story they both wanted to tell makes it all the more compelling. As we learn more about them our thinking changes from “why can’t I see what they see?” to “would I want to?” It’s the kind of film that skeptics should watch, along the recent The Awakening (2011) as both films are story-driven with strong performances throughout. They also offer enough of a scare along with pause for thought about a world we might not believe in – but is there nonetheless.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .